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Wood anatomical features in tree-rings as indicators of environmental change

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Wood anatomical and structural features observed and measured in tree- rings have proved to be useful in dendrochronology. They have added understanding and new insights to processes going on in trees with structural features that have shown linkages to environmental parameters, not given by other parameters. This review emphasizes work done primarily on continuous and non-continuous wood anatomical features measured in dated tree-rings, reflecting internal and external conditions and processes. This review also includes new results from a study conducted in the East-Ore Mountains, Germany, where several anatomical features in rings of trees grown under severe stresses were measured. It is shown how environmental changes have caused modifications or adaptations of structural features in dated tree-rings. The measurement of many structural features in tree-rings remains tedious, although for some features such as cell sizes or microfibril angle fast scanning devices have now been made available. Overall, wood anatomy indicates that growth and development of trees are dynamic processes. All these aspects, which are commonly illustrated in two and three dimensions, have in reality a fourth dimension – time.

Keywords: Wood anatomy; cross-dating; eco-physiology; environment; response; stress; wood structure

Document Type: Miscellaneous


Affiliations: Institute of Botany, Universität für Bodenkultur Wien, AustriaHolztechnikum Kuchl/Salzburg, Kuchl, Austria

Publication date: August 1, 2002

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